Maria Sharapova celebrates "one of my happiest days" after drugs ban reduced by nine months

Joe Hall
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Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed Doping Test
Sharapova will be able to play again from next April (Source: Getty)

Maria Sharapova has had her ban from tennis reduced by nine months at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The Russian tennis star said she was enjoying "one of my happiest days" after learning her ban was cut from two years to 15 months, freeing her to compete from April 2017.

Sharapova was initially given the two year ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for banned substance meldonium, added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) banned list at the beginning of the year.

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"In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken from me and it will feel really good to have it back, said Sharapova.

"Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court."

An independent tribunal panel appointed by the ITF had recommended in June that Sharapova be banned until January 2018, by which time she would have been 31, and described her as "the sole author of her own misfortune".

In her appeal to CAS, Sharapova argued she did not take the pharmaceutical drug Mildronate to enhance her performance and that she should have had her sentence reduced on the basis of “no significant fault” as she was not aware it had been added to Wada's banned list.

CAS ruled that Sharapova bore some fault of her failed test, but that a ban of 15 months was more appropriate.

"I have taken responsibility from the very beginning for not knowing that the over-the-counter supplement I had been taking for the last 10 years was no longer allowed," said the Russian.

"But I also learned how much better other federatyons were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, particularly in eastern Europe where Mildronate is commonly taken by millions of people.

"Now that this process is over, I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through."

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